Two years after the recession ended, almost 14 million Americans are out of work, including more than 6 million who have been jobless for at least six months. Job seekers outnumber available jobs by more than four-to-one.
Yet most of the political urgency in Washington is focused on the national debt, not on the shortage of work.
Now, some of President Barack Obama’s staunchest supporters — including congressional Democrats, union leaders, and former administration economists Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer – – are calling for new government initiatives to drive down the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate. They are joined by Bill Gross, manager of Pacific Investment Management Co., the world’s largest bond fund, who this week said “government must take a leading role” in creating jobs.
Even with the clamor, the president hasn’t presented a comprehensive plan to provide work for the bulk of the unemployed anytime soon. The jobless rate won’t fall below 8 percent until 2013, according to the median forecast of 65 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. After an $830 billion stimulus program failed to cut unemployment as much as the administration had predicted, and with Republicans poised to block new spending, Obama has few major policy options left.